A father of two who underwent a kidney transplant will represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games following a grant from the Neil Hudgell Trust.
Mark Swift, 42, developed the early signs of kidney disease in 1994 and was just six months away from needing dialysis, feeling constantly tired, before the life-changing transplant in August 2013.
Since then, Mark has never looked back and was selected to represent his country, winning gold medals in high jump and long jump, as well as bronze in 100m, at the British Transplant Games in Gateshead earlier this month.
Now, he is gearing up for the World Transplant Games in Argentina and jets off on August 21 – an opportunity he never imagined would be possible.
As he needs to cover all of his travel expenses and training costs, Mark said the £1,000 discretionary grant from the Neil Hudgell Trust has played a major part in helping him to succeed and snap up great opportunities.
Mark, an engineering manager from North Ferriby, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic and made a big difference to my total sum to enable me to go.
“I need £2,000 for flights, accommodation, kit and training, and travel costs. It’s a lot of money to spend on going to a sporting event. But hopefully, it will also help to raise awareness of organ donation.
“I would have been on full time dialysis if I hadn’t had the transplant and it would have been difficult to work, so it’s been life-changing for me and I can’t wait to go to Argentina.”
Mark, a former Hull Ionians player who will travel to Argentina with his brother, Andrew, and said competing in the games shows just how far he has come since his transplant.
He said: “I played sport until I became ill but I couldn’t do anything for three years before the transplant.
“My family are really chuffed for me because I’ve been really lucky. I went on the transplant list in April 2013 and had the transplant on August 5 that year. It’s great to be able to get involved in sport again and have the chance to compete.
“I was always hoping for it when I wasn’t very well but I wondered if there would ever be a chance. Before my transplant, just climbing up the stairs was tiring. I lost 3st in a couple of months before I went on the list and my kidney function dropped. To come this far is amazing and I’m so pleased I’m able to do this.”
A total of £100,000 is available from the Neil Hudgell Trust over a 12-month period and groups can apply for grants of up to £5,000.
Some individual applications fall short of the trust’s specific grant criteria, so have instead been awarded discretionary grants where the panel feel the individual is deserving of support.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the trust, said: “Mark is another great example of how to succeed in the face of adversity. His health really suffered before his kidney transplant and he has overcome so much to get to where he is in terms of sport and competing.
“It’s great to see how determined he is and he has all of our best wishes for a very successful games in Argentina.”